To put it one way, small doses of hydrogen sulfide help keep cells healthy and thus help ward off maladies such as dementia, diabetes, and even cancer. To put it another way, “smelling farts could be the best thing you do today,” as per CNET. As the Independent explains, researchers at the University of Exeter discovered that while hydrogen sulfide-the stuff produced in the gut that causes gas-is toxic in large doses, it’s actually quite beneficial in smaller ones. Specifically, it preserves mitochondria, which are vital to cell life.
“Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a health care hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases,” say the Exeter scientists. They’re not asking people to sniff appropriately. Rather, they’ve developed a compound called AP39 designed to deliver just the right dose of the stuff to cells. Studies on actual humans come next, but in the meantime, it might pay to thank that guy in the elevator for saving your life, writes Laura Stamper at Time. “Or not.” (In related news, an opera singer’s ill-timed flatulence led to a lawsuit.)